Salomon's Gel Knee Pads
Comfortable, Cool and Tough
(As reviewed by Robert "sick of road rash" Burnson
Have you noticed? ... Every year the manufacturers update their inline skates with new designs and styles -- and yet the protective gear they offer remains that same old shade of dull. ... Well, no more! Salomon's new line of high-end (though not high-cost) protective gear is stylish, comfortable and rugged. ... It might just get you wearing you pads ... FINALLY!
Road Rash as an Inspiration for Knee Pads
When I used to fall (Yes, I still fall. But now I wear protection.), I would invariably offer to the pavement the same battered part of my anatomy: my upper left shin, just below the knee. I would hit this spot no matter how I fell, even if I did a tumbling routine on my way down.
How this was possible, I don't know. But the result was always the same: a nice fresh patch of ground-beef road rash.
Eventually, I got tired of putting my left shin through Mr. Bumby's meat grinder and decided -- Big Thinker that I am! -- to get knee pads.
The Evo-lution Better Not Stop Here!
The first knee pads I tried were Rollerblade Evos. They were big and bulky and just like the only other pair of knee pads I had ever tried: the ones they gave me when I rented my first pair of inline skates.
The Evos feature black plastic shields and gel pads and are secured to the leg, in typical fashion, by an elastic cuff. To get them on, you pull them up and over your calf.
I was determined to like my Evos. They seemed to provide plenty of protection (although they scuffed up pretty good on the pavement). But I found them hot (it was summer) and uncomfortable (the elastic cuff seemed like a plaster cast!). After our first few outings together, the knee pads ended up waiting for me in the car while I skated.
You Won't Mind Strapping on These Beauties
I continued looking for knee pads. But everything seemed pretty much the same. Finally, I spotted the Salomon Gel Knee Pads and could see right away they were something new and different. The Gel Knee Pads are part of the company's Trainer line of protective gear. The line also includes gel elbow pads and handsliders.
Like everything Salomon makes, the gel pads look great! Salomon describes their design as minimalistic. I don't know about minimalistic, although they certainly take up less geography than standard protective gear. The way I would describe them is "Roman centurion." I could see Ben Hur walking around in these things.
Aside from their styling, they appear (although I don't have any crash data yet) to provide plenty of protection.
Unlike most knee pads, the Salomon Gels Pads are not attached by an elastic cuff. Instead, they are held fast by two Velcro straps.
I like this design! The straps securely fasten the knee pads and at the same time don't bind you up with a lot of material. They are much cooler than the Evos. The reason: Their design leaves your knee nicely air-conditioned.
These Things Are Flexible, Like Your Knees!
Another thing I like about the Salomon Gel Knee Pads is the way they put a joint between the top and bottom halves of the plastic shield. This allows the knee pad to flex freely with the knee. Not a bad idea considering that the knee flexes with every stroke you take!
Under the gel pads (next to the knee) is another good thing: a layer of CoolMAX material. This wicks away the sweat, which also helps keep you cool. (The Evos also had CoolMAX. But it didn't seem to help much.)
I have one complaint about these knee pads. They don't seem to have enough Velcro on the inside of the straps. When I got mine, I couldn't get them as tight as I wanted. I found that when I cinched the strap, the part that I wanted to attach to the fastener on the pad was past the point where the Velcro stopped. I thought about sending them back. But I made do and after using them a few times, the straps no longer seemed too loose. (Maybe they shrunk or my leg grew or I just got used to them?) Now they seem about perfect.
I haven't fallen hard on them yet. So I can't vouch for their crash worthiness. But I can say this: I wear them. And that's a lot better than nothing.
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Copyright © 2006 by Robert Burnson